PAC wants govt to declassify land swap deal

KUALA LUMPUR: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wants the government to declassify a report on a controversial land swap deal by the Defence Ministry, says its chairman Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.

The report in question is the Public Governance, Procurement and Finance report.

“The PAC had sent a letter on the matter on June 13 and we received a response from Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on June 27.

“In the letter, the minister said the matter will be scrutinised and reviewed by the Attorney General’s Chambers before any decision is made by the government," she said.

However, it has been three months and the government had yet to respond to the PAC with a decision, said Mas Ermieyati.

As such, the PAC was calling on the government to expedite the declassification of the report as it was already tabled to the PAC of the 14th Parliament on April 2, 2019 and Nov 16, 2020.

"This will allow the PAC to review the matter as the government had incurred RM500mil in losses in addition to the effect on its strategic defence position," she said.

She said the PAC would start proceedings on the land swap deal once the report was declassified.

The land swap deal began in 2012, involving a 38.04ha army camp in Kinrara, Selangor, the construction of an air force facility in Sendayan, and the construction of an army camp in Port Dickson, both in Negri Sembilan.

However, in 2016, the proposal to construct an army camp in Port Dickson was replaced with the proposal to set up the Paloh camp.

In 2020, then PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said the issue was brought to the committee's attention following a briefing by the special investigation committee looking into the report, after investigating 16 land swap cases involving 1,183ha of government land valued at RM4.8bil.

He said the PAC was informed that one of the issues surfaced in the land swap was related to government losses due to the inconsistent methods used to determine the value of the land and political considerations that outweighed defence interests.

Meanwhile, Mas Ermieyati said the PAC would table the progress report on the littoral combat ship (LCS) project in the first week of the October meeting of the Dewan Rakyat.

She said the committee has finalised the report on the embattled project’s progress for the period of October last year to May this year.

The PAC had recommended in its report tabled on Aug 4 last year that the Defence Ministry provide a quarterly update on the status of the combat ships.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said on May 27 that the government had to complete the project as RM6bil had already been spent on it.

The Finance Ministry has also taken over the company responsible for the project, Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS), via a special-purpose vehicle (SPV).

On another matter, the PAC would initiate a probe on the Human Resource Development Corp, said Mas Ermieyati.

However, it is unknown what had prompted the probe into the agency.

She said the topic of the proceedings on the agency, previously known as Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) would be determined later.

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